Feminine hygiene brand femfresh, have announced their partnership with one of the UK’s leading gynaecologists, Dr Ian Currie.
Dr Ian’s aim is to focus on educating women on the importance of finding the right pH balance of products used on their skin.
Here Dr Ian shares the answers to common questions raised when discussing the science of that feminine magic!
What does ‘pH-balanced’ mean and why is it important?
PH is a measure of how acid or alkali something is. Your skin has a normal pH between 5.4 and 5.9 however the intimate skin has a normalised pH that is less than 4.5 which is regulated by good bacteria in the vagina called lactobacilli. This optimal pH-balance helps to prevent the growth of harmful organisms and if the pH increases this can result in infections such as bacterial vaginosis or thrush.
Isn’t water enough? And why can’t I use my regular shower gel to cleanse my intimate skin?
Using water alone will not harm the pH-balance of your intimate skin however many women also want the added benefits of cleansing, soothing and moisturising the skin. Perfumed products can upset the natural pH-balance and a soap free, hypoallergenic, pH-balanced, dermatologically and gynaecologically tested product such as femfresh is the best way of helping to maintain the natural pH-balance. For women who want to use anything more than water, it is important to choose a product that works in harmony with your body and does not upset this pH-balance. All femfresh variants are independently tested by a clinical test, in-vivo. The study is monitored by a gynaecologist and a dermatologist.
What can upset intimate pH-balance?
PH levels change with age: before puberty and then again with the onset of the menopause. In between, there are a number of factors that can cause your pH to fluctuate such as:
- Antibiotics – which can wipe out your ’good’ bacteria, leaving you at an increased risk of infection
- Pregnancy – the hormone levels alter the pH during pregnancy. The pH changes in breast feeding women too
- After sex – sweat and abrasion during sex can be an irritant and semen is alkaline so may alter the pH
- Contraceptive pill – The pill provides constant hormone levels but some women may experience some irritation in the week that they are not on the pill
- Heat and sweat – caused by wearing tight underwear or jeans, exercising and intercourse
- Monthly cycle – hormonal changes during your monthly cycle alter the pH-balance and it’s least acidic on the days just before and during your period leaving you prone to infection. Sanitary protection products can also be irritants, particularly perfumed liners which can cause irritation especially if they are worn all day.
What are the symptoms of an unbalanced pH?
The most common symptom of a change in your pH is itching. When the intimate environment becomes irritated you want to scratch which can lead to infection.
Vaginal discharge does not always signal a problem and discharge does have a natural odour but there are conditions that can cause a malodorous discharge such as bacterial vaginosis where the bad bacteria outnumbers the good leading to inflammation.
10 top tips on how to protect the health of your intimate skin:
- Don’t wear restrictive clothing ALL the time. So occasionally slip of the skinny jeans and choose one of this summer’s pleated skirts or shirt dresses to let the skin breathe.
- Use your gorgeously scented shower gel for all of your outer skin and keep a pH preserving femfresh daily wash to hand for those intimate areas.
- Avoid strongly perfumed washing powders; opt for the most sensitive on the market.
- Don’t forget…wipe front to back and why not keep some femfresh wipes in your bag to freshen up when you’re on the go.
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet and drinking alcohol and caffeine in moderation, all help to maintain good general health and will help reduce irritation.
- Flush bugs through your system by drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day, such as water or herbal teas.
- Pee regularly! Waiting until you’re bursting can give any bacteria more of a chance to multiply.
- Use a natural lubricant during sex.
- If you regularly suffer from cystitis, try drinking cranberry juice or try cranberry tablets. There is good evidence to suggest a substance present in cranberry juice prevents bacteria from adhering to the walls of the bladder, making infections less likely to occur.
- Pee before and after sex to flush through any bacteria. If you suffer badly from urinary tract infections, shower straight after, or use a suitable intimate cleansing wipe.